A leading third-level student organisation has called on the Government to support proposed legislation to protect student renters that will come before the Dáil today.
The Union of Students in Ireland is urging Government and all other TDs to support the Bill and act on it immediately.
It says the matter is extremely urgent for students, who cannot wait any longer.
The Bill, which will be tabled by Sinn Féin, aims to protect student renters for the remainder of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It has the support of 56 Opposition TDs, including all TDs from Sinn Féin, the Labour Party, the Social Democrats, Solidarity-People Before Profit and the Independent Group.
The Residential Tenancies (Student Rents and Other Protections) (Covid-19) Act 2021 would force accommodation providers to return prepaid rents to students who cannot live in the accommodation due to public health restrictions or other Covid-19 related reasons.
It would also enable students to terminate contracts on accommodation they no longer need because of Covid-19 and would provide students with access to redress for rent they are having trouble getting repaid.
USI Vice President for Campaigns Craig McHugh said: "Action must be taken as soon as possible. Due to the lack of legal protections and inflexibility from providers, many students have not been allowed to terminate their contracts with student accommodation providers early as they were in "licensee agreements" and not tenancies.
"When it comes to purpose-built student accommodation, students have about as many rights as if they were staying in a hotel.
"This Bill, developed by us with Sinn Féin, and co-signed by most of the Opposition, comes on the back of repeated calls by USI since the pandemic hit for Government to introduce emergency provisions to ensure student renters were not hit by a repeat of what happened in March 2020 when colleges and universities closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"But no action was taken by Government on the back of these calls. We need them to show support for students now and pass the bill."
The Union of Students in Ireland represents over 374,000 third-level students across the island of Ireland.